Aotearoa People's Network

The ins and outs of WiFi stats

For just over two years we've been providing online, updated daily, WiFi statistics from this very website.

Why? Well, library staff collect stats on a range of things - door counts, number of issues and so on. And a good thing too, how else would we know how long the reserve list for The Hunger Games is?

As WiFi is another service that public libraries offer it's appropriate that we make information on its use available to library staff...or anyone who's interested really.

Recently we've beefed up our stats so that they now show usage from a longer period. We've also changed the display a little so that running your mouse over the graph shows you both the date and the precise number of sessions from that day.

Which is how you can tell that despite the major disruption to services in Christchurch on 22 February 2011 that service to libraries around the country was largely unaffected. So sayeth the 2130 WiFi user sessions that successfully connected to the Internet that day (see image below).

Screenshot of WiFi graph for 22 February 2011

We actually collect two kinds of statistics relating to our WiFi - unique devices and user sessions - and it's quite important to know the difference between them.

A new user session occurs every time someone attempting to connect to APNK WiFi clicks the 'I Agree' button on our terms of use page. It's worth bearing in mind that a user may have multiple sessions in a day.

Unique devices relates to the number of, you guessed it, unique devices connecting to the WiFi. While this number is probably closer to the number of actual people using our WiFi on a given day, it doesn't take into account people who use both a smartphone and a laptop to connect, or siblings or spouses who might take turns using the same device.

Statistics, it's a squirrely business.

What the WiFi stats are pretty good at showing us are trends. For instance, you can see at a glance where weekends fall in all our graphs because usage drops significantly. But is that because of reduced demand or because libraries are usually open for fewer hours on the weekends? The other major dips in usage are on public holidays when libraries are closed.

But overwhelmingly the trend is up, up, up. Part of this is due to more libraries adding APNK WiFi to the service they offer their customers (the latest being Tararua District Libraries), but this only accounts for some of the upward trending. Most of it is simply greater demand. More people in libraries with Internet-capable devices connecting and searching and doing things online.

And that's the kind of trend we love to see.

Date: 
Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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